Kathleen Pressure Cooks, Part II

So week two with my pressure cooker is almost wrapped up, and I have written this article like six times, all either I LOVE THIS AND IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE or I HATE THIS AND PEOPLE ARE STUPID.


Because I actually am not getting behind it for actual recipes and cooking actual dinners. It does cut down on cooking time. But cooking time is not that difficult. I can go do something else while it’s cooking. I need someone to keep all the prep and getting ready and all the…well, cooking part of cooking away from me.

Like a slow cooker.

But I digress.

So this week I decided to try two dump recipes (a spaghetti with meat sauce and king ranch chicken), and some basics- baked chicken, hard boiled eggs, and baked potatoes.

The dump recipes were both really good. They’re located here and here. I preferred the spaghetti, and it was a hit with the kids too.

The basics were awesome. I dumped a bag of frozen chicken in there with some broth and salt and pepper and 15 minutes of cooking later (so like half an hour total) they were done. That was awesome. Baked potatoes were about 45 minutes total, which is also pretty cool. I personally can’t stand hard boiled eggs but Squeaks loves them. They were done in five minutes in a steamer basket, and the shells came right off every time. That was amazing.


Because you don’t know stress until you’re arguing with a seven-year-old about how those little white pieces are supposed to be there.


Next week I’m trying to adapt recipes- some of my go-to ones that are already super easy.

30 for 30

30 Things I Did On my 30th Birthday:

1.) Got up at 12 am to check on Buddy’s breathing.

2.) Got up at 1 am to check on Buddy’s breathing.

3.) Got up at 2 am to check on Buddy’s breathing.

4.) Slept through 3 am check.

5.) Woke at 3:15, ran crazily into Buddy’s room, expecting to find him dead.

6.) Found him perfectly happy and breathing normally.

7.) Figured it had been eight hours since he’d had a breathing treatment, and I could go to bed.

8.) Mumbled something about watching your tablet to Squeaks when she came in at 7:30.

9.) Slept a merciful four hours or so until Buddy got up for good at 8:30. (Which, by the way, is super late for him. I mean, I sleep trained, but even I can’t manage that.

10.) Kissed my husband good morning over two children and thanked him for his birthday wishes and his assurances that he will always find me attractive no matter what age I am.

11.) Fell back asleep.

12.) Got up, and drank coffee by myself.

13.) Read a lovely note from my husband and got a beautiful gift from Colonial Williamsburg.

14.) Read a book. ALL  BY MYSELF.

15.) Went out to lunch with my family.

16.) Discovered the Silver Spring House had seriously gone downhill.

17.) Meh, it’s still a burger.

18.) Came home and TOOK A NAP WITHOUT HAVING TO PUT BUDDY TO BED. BUZZ DID THAT. HE DID. IT WAS AMAZING.

19.) Napped. Hard. All afternoon.

20.) Woke up in a puddle of my own spit.

21.) Went to my parents’ house for pizza and lemon box cake.

22.) Got even more presents. I know. I’m pretty lucky.

23.) Drank old fashioneds all night and it was similarly amazing.

24.) Came home and put the kids to bed and they were nice to me kind of for a change.

25.) Watched a Downton Abbey episode.

26.) Waxed nostalgic about the Anna/Bates drama.

27.) Used like eight different kinds of moisturizer because I’m thirty, yo.

28.) Checked Buddy again. Still breathing. Whew.

29.) Checked Squeaks, because then I worried that my obsessive asthma monitoring of Buddy was somehow going to lead to her getting something deadly and then tragedy ensues. She was fine. Whew.

30.) Passed out next to my super sweet husband in my dream house with only a minimum of gray hair that I can’t even really tell because I have pretty light hair anyway.

A pretty good day.

Instant Love

Guys, I’ve been cheating.

Not on my spouse. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

(And I love him and that whole sacramental covenant stuff.)

No, I’ve been cheating…on my crock pot.

(That, by the way, is the most middle-aged soccer mom sentence I’ve ever written. I’m going to start addressing other women as Mamas! soon. Good Lord.)

I love my crock pot. I got one when I got married and have used it pretty much constantly since then- at least once a week. I love the crock pot because it allows me to make dinner without having to think about it. I refuse to use any recipe that involves anything more than dumping frozen and or boxed ingredients into the (lined- I’m not cleaning that up) pot and starting it. Sometimes I’ll chop a vegetable.

Maybe.

But lately I’ve heard tell of a new siren, something called an Instant Pot. Which I  can’t afford.

BUT! I did get a cheap new in box pressure cooker on a facebook buy, sell, trade site for TWENTY DOLLARS HOLLA ATCHA GIRL.

So I’m psyched. The crock pot is amazing for me, but there are days when I forget or don’t feel like chopping and preparing at crack thirty when I get up before the kids. And some days I haven’t grocery shopped yet so I don’t even physically have the stuff here to dump into the crock pot. The pressure cooker should fix days like that. Since apparently you can cook pheasant under glass in like twenty minutes. (Never mind that I couldn’t find a pheasant at a butchers in under twenty minutes.)

I’m also reaching the end of a menu planning cycle and I’ve decided to go all in, y’all. I am going to be all pressure cooker, all the time. A marathon if you will.

But with less running and more pasta cooked in it’s own juices.

That’s my kind of marathon.

So hit me up- what are your best Instant Pot or pressure cooker recipes?

Things That Keep Me Up At Night

I have trouble sleeping. It hasn’t always been this way, before Buddy came I could pass out with the best of them. After Buddy, well, let’s just say I discovered the joys of Unisom. And now that I’ve weaned myself off of that (not for any reason like it was good for my body, but rather because it was making NyQuil less effective and I really need to keep a NyQuil shot in my back pocket in case of colds, you guys. BECAUSE CHILDREN.) it’s back to insomnia.

***

“I need to go to the store tomorrow. Ugh. I  hate going to the store with the kids. I hate going to the store period. I want to buy stuff. I want to buy waay more stuff than we can afford. I wonder how much money I spent on Gwynnie Bee this month.

Hmm. I could check.

Nope, you’re not supposed to use your phone before bed. Blue light or something.

Need to go to the library too. Don’t have time to do a real library trip with the kids, so they’ll be super cranky. Yay.

I wonder if I read to them enough. I know Squeaks reads all the time, but does Buddy get shortchanged? I mean, he does speak in a British accent from all of his Netflix shows.

Does he watch too much Sarah and Duck?

He pronounces “shallots” “shal-LOTS” now. Ugh, I’m a horrible mother.

What about their other subjects. I’m probably not doing enough. I mean, how am I going to teach her division this year? I hated division.

We’re going to fight so much. I hate fighting with her. I expected fighting when she was a teeanger and realized how quickly I married her dad, but not now.

Ugh, did I marry her dad too quickly? Did I completely mess her up?

What about religion. I mean, that’s the most important thing. Division won’t matter if we’re all rotting in hell because I’m a horrible mother.

I should say the rosary with them more often. That’s like the thing that people say kept their kids Catholic. But SO MUCH FIGHTING.

And I mean what does this matter if there’s a schism and then I have to probably buy new materials anyway so whatever, not worth worrying.

Oh God. What if there’s a schism?

No, no, not my problem. Not my monkeys. The gates of hell shall not prevail and all that.

I feel like I’m forgetting something. I wrote down Irish dancing on the calendar. I can’t believe we’re an Irish dancing family now. Ugh. I hate having obligations. I just want to have them be little and nap and cuddle.

Maybe you should have another baby then.

NO NO BABY RIGHT NOW.

But…

NO YOU ARE STILL CRAZY. YOU ARE STILL LYING AWAKE AT NIGHT WORRYING ABOUT HOW BUDDY PRONOUNCES VEGETABLE NAMES.

Well yeah okay. But then I’d have someone that wasn’t taking lessons and shit.

Yes, but you’d have to bring them to the lessons. Squeaks isn’t going to get younger because you have another kid.

True.

GYMNASTICS.

I forgot to sign Buddy up for gymnastics. I’ll bet they’re full. I promised him. I know he doesn’t remember but I feel badly. He’s being raised by a cartoon duck.

And Sarah.

Meh, I didn’t really want to take him anyway. And I’ll bet he’d have to be potty-trained for the next level.

Seriously. He needs to be potty trained.

But he’s not ready. I know but he should be. That’s stupid, kids should not do anything they’re not ready for. I KNOW BUT SOCIETY.

Honestly, schism is less concerning than my kid’s diapers. Those are HORRIFYING.

Maybe I should just say the rosary and that will help me fall asleep.

But I should say it tomorrow with the kids too. So they don’t leave the Church.

Okay. Good plan. Grocery, library, rosary. Then nap.

Oh goodness, then a nap.

Wait. Do I have dinner planned?

***

The struggle. It is real. And insane. And kind of funny.

Snaps from a Weekend

We have had a weekend y’all. So much fun so much to do, so little sleep.

And waaay too many gin and tonics. Although that’s probably just me.

On Thursday evening Buzz had work dinner (see previous post for snark) and I took the kids to see their uncle run his open mic. And then they climbed up on stage because of course all the patrons wanted to see them. Obviously. 

$4 vodka mixers yo.


 

Friday was zoo ala Carte, when my father in law buys us a ton of food and it’s just delightful. 

(Even me. The girl that married his daughter’s husband. I get food tickets. That’s how nice these people are.) 

We wrapped up the day at Irish Fest with just me and buzz and I discoveee I really like dry cider.

Also how cute is my sister’s little family?
Saturday was my cousin’s wedding, and it was so glorious that om going to write about it next time. But here are some of the more superficial pics I snapped that day. 

I got to get dressed by myself. It was amazing.

I was really feeling my look. 

We’re related.


It was a really nice bathroom and I really wanted to stea stuff. 

Sunday was Irish Fest, now with 100% more my new lady love, Megan!

The misspelling belies how much unneeded the black coffee. 

Buddy was so mad that people were paying attention to Squeaks that he tried to climb back in the womb.

Monday we all took off to recover and watch the eclipse- for the three seconds the clouds parted.

Joey could care less about the eclipse. 

Stages of a Work Dinner

1.) Husband informs you he needs to stay late for a work dinner sometime next week.

2.) You agree automatically, probably because he could say something like, “Darling, I’m leaving you for someone without a front butt and taking the children,” during dinnertime and I’d be like. “Fine, whatever. Give Buddy some more toast, will you?”

3.) Stop and realize that you just agreed to more alone childcare. Ask husband where he’s going.

4.) He hems and haws and won’t look at you.

5.) “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”

6.) *tiny voice* “Really expensive restaurant…”

7.) What?

8.) *ahem* “Really expensive restaurant.”

9.) Oh, you mean the restaurant we could never afford to go to? That one. Fine. Fine. Have a good time. “WORKING.”

10.) Stew about that for a week or so, passive aggressively dropping it into every conversation involving food, drinks, work, or evening.

11.) Decide screw that, if you get dinner and cocktails with real adults I get to order delivery pizza and invite my sister over.

12.) Eat all the pizza.

13.) Tell husband he has to stay away long enough that you can get a couple of solitary Criminal Minds episodes in. Because if he’s missing bedtime he sure as hell isn’t going to also take away a quiet evening to yourself.

14.) Yell at children until they stay in their bedrooms.

15.) Begin drinking.

16.) Text husband repeatedly about what he’s drinking and eating and who he’s sitting next to and doesn’t he miss you?

17.) Husband stops responding. Probs too busy with his martini and raw oysters.

18.) Remember you don’t like raw oysters. Or oysters at all.

19.) Don’t care. Still mad.

20.) Get to a particularly creepy episode of Criminal Minds. Text husband and tell him he’d better call before he lets himself in or I might accidentally call the police because he’s obviously trying to kill me.

21.) Ask him what he’s eating now. Get mad about whatever the answer is.

22.) Eat some more pizza.

23.) Husband says he’s coming home.

24.) Alert the police to stop the perimeter around your house.

25.) Husband gets home.

26.) Bug him about the whole evening.

27.) He assures you nothing fun happened, it was a work dinner.

28.) Don’t believe him, because probably no one sat on his head or threw a piece of bread at him. Probably.

29.) He assures you he’d rather be home with you.

30.) Don’t believe him, but thank him anyways.

Marriage. It’s about compromise.

Exactly How It’s Supposed to Be

Sometimes I’ll be hauling children into my house and fighting with them about whether it’s playtime or naptime and stumbling over toys that are left in my formal living room and the pillows that are not left on the couch like they OBVIOUSLY should be and I have to run after my son who is using my family heirloom dining table as a racetrack for his firetruck and my husband has left his dirty nasty underwear on the floor for the…well, how many days have we been living here?th day straight and I am struck by the thought, “This is not how it’s supposed to be.”

I’ve known I was going to live in my house for a long time. When I was pretty young I knew that it would be mine. And then when we spent a year fixing it up it was done expressly with the plan of my moving in. It was my house. I knew exactly what I wanted and where I wanted it and it was my house.

My being the operative word.

I was single. Really, really, really single. I hadn’t ever really had a boyfriend. I dated only occasionally because most people bugged me. The one guy I was interested in left me at a Starbucks because he was contemplating the priesthood. (So I got that square on Catholic girl bingo.)

I was in a profession where people either got married super late or not at all, and even if they did their fates were tied to whatever university would hire them. I was seriously limiting myself professionally by swearing to stay in Milwaukee, and I couldn’t really hope to find the perfect guy on top of it, right?

I was going to live alone in this house of mine. If I allowed myself to picture my life there, it was definitely alone. I would jump out of my car by myself and walk unhindered into my house. I would not have to brush away the tiny flying bugs that might be on the porch because my children are terrified on any bug at all (It’s summer. Get over it.) I hang my bag in the empty, clean closet and walk through my clean living room to make myself coffee or pour myself a glass of wine, depending on what time of day it is. The kitchen is of course spotless, because I only had to put away my healthy breakfast dishes in the morning. I flip on the TV to some ridiculous cable channel that I still know exists, and sink down at my clean desk that is in no way colored on to see if there is anything pressing that requires my attention. After relaxing and enjoying the evening I replace what little detritus there was from one person relaxing for an evening and go up to my bedroom that is decorated exactly how I like and painted gray without anyone whining about how “gray is such a depressing color!” and definitely doesn’t smell like adult male bottom. Just…all the time, I don’t know why. There is no lingering scent of diaper or little girl lipstick or whatever in the air. Because I have a library/office and a guest room/exercise room. Why would I keep diapers or crappy makeup in either of those?

I fall asleep spread out in my own bed, with the light of the timed candle in the window making the room all cozy and warm. Ahhh.

This is how it is supposed to be. This is what I expected.

(Ignore the fact that without my husband and his chemical engineering degree/job/ability to provide for us, I would be lounging on a futon I found on craigslist and my bonus rooms would be furnished with whatever I managed to steal from my parents’ house. Because I was underemployed in the way that only a Catholic girl with advanced degrees in Jewish Studies can be.)

But…not really. There have been a few times over the years we’ve lived here that I’ve come close to living this fantasy. My kids are in bed early, my husband traveled for work, I was essentially on my own. Yeah, there was the lingering ammonia diaper smell, but I could ignore that. I’m writing this now in a quiet, clean house while my kids are at a movie with their grandma(s.) It’s delightful. My coffee is hot. If I could still afford cable it would be on, but I’ve got Netflix going on in the background. No one is touching my throw pillows.

And I’m overwhelmed with the thought that…this is not how it’s supposed to be.

The fantasy I had at 20 when I was single? Is not the fantasy that 24-year-old married Kathleen had and certainly not the one that 29-year-old mom Kathleen has. As annoying as it is to admit to myself, I would not ever want to live without the diapers and the lipgloss and the cars and the pillows tossed away so we could cuddle and my desk drawn on and covered in pictures my daughter has left for me. I wouldn’t want to live in my dream bedroom because my husband wouldn’t be there with me. I wouldn’t want to have a spotless kitchen because that means I didn’t spend the evening relaxing with my husband and drinking G&Ts instead of washing the dishes. Heck, even the stupid candle I don’t like anymore because my husband has trained me to sleep in complete darkness over the last five years.

I guess my life isn’t what I thought it would be. I guess no one’s is.

And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Vacation

Buzz took off the last week or so and I decided I was on vacation too. I mean, as on vacation as I could be at home with kids. BUT STILL.

Things I Did On My Vacation:

1.) Slept. A lot.

2.) Napped. Every day.

3.) Met my Goodreads Challenge and upped my book number to 150 for the year.

4.) Said things like, “Sure fine whatever, eat the pancake that fell on the floor.”

5.) Read Under the Banner of Heaven and decided I’m glad I’m Catholic.

6.) Refused to eat any breakfast that was not cooked by my husband because I enjoy being waited on.

7.) Finished lesson planning for the next year.

8.) KON MARI’D MY HUSBAND’S CLOTHES AND RECLAIMED MY CLOSET.

9.) Switched to velvet, slim-line hangers and my life has changed.

Things I Did Not Do On My Vacation:

1.) Blog (which is why this is a day late and in listicle form)

2.) Laundry (which is why my kids have worn tank tops or diapers to bed the last few nights.)

3.) Have to manually empty the sump pump like I did every half hour yesterday. (That was fun.)

4.) Made a healthy, well-balanced meal.

5.) Done a whole lot except stand in my closet and marvel at the prettiness.

6.) Shower regularly.

7.) Really anything productive.

That’s pretty good for a summer vacation, I think.

Catholic Sistas Post: Why I Veil

So I’m super honored and happy to be able to write for the amazing Catholic women’s blog Catholic Sistas. I had my first post published earlier this month. 

“As a mother of two young kids, here’s what my preparation for Mass looks like. I get up (probably late) and run around like a crazy person making sure we’re all dressed and have the diaper bag and everyone is wearing shoes and coats and underwear. My son is mad that he can’t wear his football shirt. My daughter is mad because she doesn’t like to go anywhere or do anything if she has to, but would prefer to float through life without any obligations. (Me too, kid. Get in the car.) My husband stands in the wrong place or something and annoys me because he’s not in my head and I’m mad at him for not doing what I’m thinking of asking him to do because I didn’t leave enough time to get ready. Once we get to church it’s an hour of picking up thrown books, handing out this week’s Magnifikid to my daughter if I was smart enough to bring it, handing out last week’s Magnifikid to my son to color on and having him flatly reject it (sorry, you can’t read, so you don’t get your own subscription), and convincing both children that Daddy will, in fact, come back after being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. He didn’t go away to war.

Wearing a veil has become a physical reminder to myself that I am in the presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament. I am participating in literally the most important thing I will ever do. Not that the obligations of my family go away, but I am able to switch my mind back much faster and focus much more after distractions.”

Read the rest of the post  over on Catholic Sistas. And follow them for some seriously amazing spiritual reading!

Lazy Girl’s Guide to Home Management, Part 4: Budgeting 


Um. I’ve got nothing.

***

No no no. I mean, I’m horrible at budgeting. Well, it’s not that I’m horrible at budgeting so much as I’m horrible at sticking to a budget and like, guys, I’m really bad at it.

But because I’ve struggled so long with it, I have some thoughts about things that make it easier or more effective. 

So here are my tips for budgeting when you hate budgeting. 

  1. Use a budget. If you don’t have this written out somewhere- write it out somewhere!
  2. Online tools like Mint.com are free and easy and really help stupid people like me see where my money is going (as though it went anywhere other than Sephora and Gwynnie Bee.) 
  3. Make sure you have categories budgeted for gifts and charity. These are two major areas of your budget that you definitely should not get rid of but we often forget to separate.
  4. If you’re bad at this like I am, force yourself to look at it every week. There’s nothing worse than ignoring it for a month and being surprised. 
  5. Be on the same page as your spouse. If you’re not (like me) pray about how to get on the same page. 
  6. You know what? Just pray about it in general. Seriously. You need to.

So…not really groundbreaking stuff. And if my husband reads this I hope he’s stopped laughing hysterically at the thought of my giving anyone financial advice.